While shopping around at a local outdoors store recently, I met quite an interesting man. I was decked out in my Tackle Warehouse shirt and once he noticed, he was all over me like white on rice. I didn’t mind at all because I love meeting new people and talking about our sport. Heck, I’ll talk fishing to a brick wall for hours on endâ€”give me an actual person to talk fishing with and we could be there for days. Until my girlfriend reminded me a few days ago, I wasn’t even aware there were other things to have conversations about.
Following the standard “fisherman’s greeting” (a hurried name introduction and firm handshake followed by a drawn-out description of your boat and any fancy new equipment), I quickly realized that this man wasn’t interested in a conversation. He didn’t care about a single word coming from my mouth. This man wanted to let me know that he was the best fisherman on Planet Earth. We’ve all been there before. It was my lucky day.
I bit my tongue while politely mollifying him with frequent head nods, animated eyebrow raises and enthusiastic smiles. As he continued to ramble on, I found myself frantically thinking of an escape route. I don’t wear a watch, so I couldn’t use the trusty “Well, I gotta run” excuse. I left my cell phone in the truck, so I couldn’t fake a phone call. To make things even worse, I was by myself without a comrade to bail me out of the trenches. I was stuck behind enemy lines.
As it turns out, this man fishes a local tournament trail that frequents my home lake. He proceeded to tell me that it’s the premier trail in the southeast and that I better have my ‘you know what’ together if I planned to fish any of the events. On top of that, when he learned of my career at Wired2Fish, he condescendingly shook his head saying, “Naw man, ain’t no money in that. You’re wasting your time.”
Okay, so let me get this straight: A complete stranger approaches me, and in a single conversation openly doubts my fishing talent, shoots down my hard-fought dream career and talks to me like a child. Nicely done sir, nicely done.
After finally weaseling my way out of the store and saving my eardrums from further punishment, I was left with an indescribably sour taste in my mouth. I wasn’t mad at the man because it would be a waste of my energy. I just let it go and kept on trucking. The exchange did, however, make me realize somethingâ€”as anglers, we all must realize the disparity between self-belief and egotism.
Who knows, maybe the man from the tackle shop really is the best fisherman in the world. Chances are, he’s not, but I’ll gladly give him the benefit of the doubt. Either way, nothing is ever gained from arrogance, regardless of the situation. Instead of spending our energy discrediting fellow anglers, it’s important that we use our individual talents and abilities to grow this magnificent sport. Fishing is a brotherhood and we need to be there to pull each other up, not push others down.
We must always remember our biggest commonality. We are a special breed of people with a shared respect and reverence for fishing and the creatures we seek. The only person who can fully, 100-percent relate with a fisherman, is a fisherman. We’re not curing cancer and most of us will never compete in the Bassmaster Classic. Let’s take the time to contribute towards the growth and development of the sport that has had such an enormous impact on our lives.
When it’s all said and done, it really isn’t about being “better” than someone. It doesn’t matter who catches the most fish or who catches the 5-pounder in the Saturday tournament. We can’t take success to our graves. Instead, let’s help one another and enjoy the fellowship with others who share the same passion. Catching fish is greatâ€”we all love catching fish. As my mom always told me growing up, however, we must never get so caught up in the end result that we forget to enjoy the journey.
We want everyone to keep this in mind throughout your travels and interactions with fellow anglers, fans and most importantly, the younger generation. Give the kid at the boat ramp one of your lures, tell him what the fish are eatingâ€”try to do something to “pay it forward”. You never know who may be watching. For the good of our sport, we all need to remember to put our pride aside and put on a smile. Be pleasant. Be polite. Wave back at fellow anglers on the water. And, be forever thankful that you are blessed enough to be Wired2Fish.
If you enjoyed this article, here are a few others we think you will enjoy:
- Why We Tournament Fish
- Common Courtesy Among Anglers of Immediacy
- Rules of the Water | A Guide to Boating Safety
- Life is a Race | From Bass Fishing to NASCAR
- Who Are We | A Fishing Mantra
- Bass Fishing Superman Needed
- Making Fishing Memories in the Simple Places
- How Fishing Becomes Part of Our DNA